A Missouri man believes he was racially profiled after he and 30 of his guests were escorted from a restaurant by police over a misunderstanding about their food bill.
Terrence Dickerson, 30, said the incident left him feeling completely “humiliated.”
According to FOX 2, the situation unfolded Saturday at Blue Sky Tower Grill in Richmond Heights, where Dickerson, a chef and recording artist, had made reservations for 30 friends and relatives to help him celebrate his birthday. What was expected to be a night of fun and fellowship quickly went south, however, when the group was suddenly asked to leave.
“We wanted to have a good time and a birthday celebration, [and] they treated us like we weren’t supposed to be there.” Dickerson told the station. “It made us feel like a criminal. It made me feel like we were breaking the law, and we were not.”
He said he signed a contract reserving a party space at the restaurant, which stated that guests could pay for their food and drink separately but would be charged a 20 percent gratuity. However, Dickerson claimed their waitress stopped serving the table after she became “overwhelmed” by the large party.
“She left and never came back,” he recalled. “The next message we get is the police want you to leave.”
Richmond Heights police said they were called to the restaurant around 8:20 p.m. for a report of a possible disturbance. Authorities soon realized that wasn’t the case.
“We had 7 or 8 officers respond,” Police Chief Doug Schaeffler said. “We quickly found out that it wasn’t a disturbance, just a misunderstanding over how the group would be billed; if it would be one check or an individual check. When we arrived, the restaurant came to an agreement and was working with the group.”
One of Dickerson’s guests recorded video from the incident, which was later posted and shared on social media.
“Very embarrassing,” party guest Hofton Nelson said of the ordeal. “I looked out and noticed like 6 or 7 more cops, like 8 total. I asked if any laws were broken or is there a reason you should be here. Police said they were called that a group of 30 that did not want to pay, and I said that is not true. We were still trying to get our food.
Dickerson said he believes the restaurant assumed his party would not pay their food bill because they’re African-American. Afterward, he said his guests were made to stand in a single-file line and pay before being forced out of the restaurant.
“Police told everybody we had to go upstairs because it was a bad look on the place,” Nelson told FOX 2. “I told him the fact that we have a Black party of 30 and we have a contract to be up here, it looks bad because you have eight police officers here and no laws are being broken.”
Dickerson is now demanding an apology from the restaurant.
Management for the Blue Sky Tower Grill later addressed the incident in a statement, saying they’re still working to determine what happened that night.
“Unfortunately, we are currently out of town and unable to return until Monday, February 18, 2019,” the owners said. “In the meantime, we have been in communication with the customer and have agreed to return the $100.00 facility fee. We have also apologized to the customer for any inconvenience or dissatisfaction. Likewise, we apologize to all of the guests who were inconvenienced last Saturday evening.”
“We always try our best to meet our customer’s expectations,” they added. “Apparently we did not do so in this case. We are sorry this incident happened.”
Watch more in the video below.